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Chelsea hold off spirited Slavia Prague to reach semi-finals

Chelsea hold off spirited Slavia Prague to reach semi-finals

The Europa League's top scorer Olivier Giroud took his tally to 10 with his strike against Slavia PragueChelsea held off a second-half comeback by Slavia Prague to progress to the Europa League semi-finals with victory in the second leg at Stamford Bridge.Maurizio Sarri's side were cruising at half-time with a four-goal aggregate lead before Petr Sevcik produced two sensational strikes as the nerves crept into a previously dominant Chelsea performance.Buoyed by their noisy supporters, the visitors pushed forward as they tried to force a way back into the game but time defeated them as the Blues regained their composure to close out victory.
Having secured a valuable 1-0 advantage in the Czech Republic, Chelsea raced into a three-goal lead in west London courtesy of goals from Pedro, Olivier Giroud and a calamitous Simon Deli own goal.Slavia captain Tomas Soucek headed in his side's first goal before Pedro doubled his tally just 63 seconds later.Chelsea travel to Germany for the first leg of their last-four tie with Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday, 2 May.
Relive Thursday's Europa League action
Chelsea produce two contrasting halves
Chelsea lost ground in the race for the top four in the Premier League with defeat at Liverpool on Sunday, but as Sarri indicated before kick-off, the Blues were solely focused on the job in hand during the opening period against Slavia.They were dominant from the first whistle, exploiting the visitors with clinical accuracy and scoring four first-half goals from four shots on target.They took a third-minute lead with a fluid move down the right involving Cesar Azpilicueta before Pedro played a neat one-two with Giroud to streak clear and lift the ball over goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar.It was 2-0 moments later when Pedro struck the post after Eden Hazard flashed the ball across the face of goal, only for Deli to helplessly divert the rebound over his own line from close range.Giroud rolled in his 10th goal of this season's competition to extend the lead before Soucek pulled one back, but Pedro's second restored a three-goal lead on the night.Sarri's side lost their rhythm after the break and only mustered two shots at goal as Slavia stepped up their intensity. Sevcik unleashed two similar strikes with his potent left foot, beating Kepa Arrizabalaga first at his near post before then finding the top corner with a stunning effort five minutes later.Chelsea's mini-capitulation had echoes of their display at Anfield on Sunday - when two goals in eight minutes at the start of the second period settled the match - but the Blues had useful cushion to protect them on this occasion.Victory ensured Chelsea became the first English club to win 11 matches in European competition in a single season, but Sarri must help his players to find consistent displays for the whole game if they are to deliver a first European trophy since 2013 - and with it Champions League football next season.
Slavia salvage their pride after the break
With 45 minutes played, Slavia were staring at a humiliating defeat by a confident Chelsea attack, but they will be encouraged by their second-half performance as they chase the Czech league title.Jindrich Trpisovsky's side are five points clear with two games to play in their domestic league, and they are clearly capable of competing against some of Europe's big hitters. Slavia posed a threat from set-plays as Deli almost scored their first goal with a powerful header before Soucek opened their account.Chelsea struggled with their aerial power and physicality as the visitors produced more shots over 90 minutes (11) than the hosts (9).Sevcik's terrific left foot almost initiated a memorable comeback, but Slavia exit the competition with their pride in tact, having scored four goals against the Premier League's fourth best defence, and claimed impressive victories over Genk and Sevilla in the knockout stages.
Man of the match - Pedro (Chelsea)
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

Chelsea forward Pedro had a hand in three of Chelsea's four goals - scoring two and assisting another
'It's a mistake we are making very often' - what they said
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, speaking to BT Sport: "We started very badly in the second half but I'm really really happy because we played well in the first 45 minutes and we are in a European semi-final which is very important to us."We knew very well the match was going to be difficult. They ran a lot and with quality - lot of metres at high speed."Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, speaking to BT Sport: "It is a mistake we are making very often and we are conceding early goals in the second half of games. We were 4-1 up but they put us in trouble and we were risking it. We were suffering until the end."It is not the way we want to win the trophy but we are in the semi-final and hopefully we can get through."
Ton-up for Chelsea - the stats
Chelsea are the first English side to win 11 major European games in a single season.
Slavia Prague are winless in their last nine European meetings with English clubs (W0 D2 L7) since winning 2-1 at home to Leeds United in March 2000 in the UEFA Cup.
Slavia Prague are just one of four sides to score 3+ goals against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in European competition and the first to do so in the Europa League.
Chelsea have benefited from five own-goals in all competitions this season, of Premier League clubs, only Man City (7) and Arsenal (6) have benefited from more.
Chelsea are the second Premier League side to reach 100 goals in all competitions this season after Manchester City.
Pedro has been directly involved in three goals in a European match for the first time in his career (2 goals, 1 assist).
Chelsea's Olivier Giroud has been directly involved in 13 goals in his last nine Europa League appearances, scoring 10 and assisting three.
Olivier Giroud is the first Chelsea player to score 10 goals in a single season in European football.
Line-ups
Match Stats
Live Text
Line-ups
Chelsea
1ArrizabalagaBooked at 83mins[/i]
28Azpilicueta
27Christensen
30David LuizBooked at 89mins[/i]
33EmersonBooked at 75mins[/i]
7KanteBooked at 33mins[/i]
17Kovacic
8BarkleySubstituted forJorginhoat 70'minutes
11PedroSubstituted forHudson-Odoiat 87'minutes
18Giroud
10E HazardSubstituted forWillianat 65'minutes
Substitutes
5Jorginho
9Higuain
13Caballero
20Hudson-Odoi
21Zappacosta
22Willian
24Cahill
Slavia Prague
1Kolar
15KudelaBooked at 73mins[/i]
13Ngadeu-Ngadjui
19Deli
18Boril
23SevcikSubstituted forStochat 78'minutes
33Kral
22SoucekBooked at 53mins[/i]
8ZmrhalSubstituted forSkodaat 85'minutes
27Traore
28MasopustSubstituted forOlayinkaat 52'minutes
Substitutes
9Olayinka
12Zeleny
14Van Buren
17Stoch
21Skoda
25Frydrych
31Kovar
Referee:Damir Skomina
Match Stats
Home TeamChelseaAway TeamSlavia PraguePossessionHome55%Away45%ShotsHome9Away11Shots on TargetHome4Away4CornersHome3Away4FoulsHome9Away19
Live Text
Posted at
Match ends, Chelsea 4, Slavia Prague 3.
Full Time
Posted at 90'+4' Second Half ends, Chelsea 4, Slavia Prague 3.Posted at 90'+2' Attempt blocked. David Luiz (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.Posted at 90'+1' Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Posted at 90'+1' Foul by Ibrahim Benjanim Traore (Slavia Prague).Posted at 90' Attempt missed. Alex Kral (Slavia Prague) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Milan Skoda.Posted at 90' Attempt blocked. Miroslav Stoch (Slavia Prague) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Booking
Posted at 89' David Luiz (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.Posted at 88' Hand ball by David Luiz (Chelsea).
Substitution
Posted at 87' Substitution, Chelsea. Callum Hudson-Odoi replaces Pedro.
Substitution
Posted at 85' Substitution, Slavia Prague. Milan Skoda replaces Jaromir Zmrhal.Posted at 84' Offside, Chelsea. Emerson tries a through ball, but Mateo Kovacic is caught offside.Posted at 83' Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Posted at 83' Foul by Ondrej Kudela (Slavia Prague).
Booking
Posted at 83' Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.Posted at 82' Attempt missed. Miroslav Stoch (Slavia Prague) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Ibrahim Benjanim Traore.
Substitution
Posted at 78' Substitution, Slavia Prague. Miroslav Stoch replaces Petr Sevcik.Posted at 77' Corner, Slavia Prague. Conceded by Emerson.Posted at 76' Offside, Slavia Prague. Tomas Soucek tries a through ball, but Peter Olayinka is caught offside.
Booking
Posted at 75' Emerson (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Posted at 75' Foul by Emerson (Chelsea).Posted at 75' Ondrej Kudela (Slavia Prague) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Booking
Posted at 73' Ondrej Kudela (Slavia Prague) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.Posted at 73' Willian (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 73' Foul by Ondrej Kudela (Slavia Prague).
Substitution
Posted at 70' Substitution, Chelsea. Jorginho replaces Ross Barkley.Posted at 66' Offside, Chelsea. Kepa Arrizabalaga tries a through ball, but Olivier Giroud is caught offside.
Substitution
Posted at 65' Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Eden Hazard.Posted at 64' Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui.Posted at 63' Ross Barkley (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 63' Foul by Ibrahim Benjanim Traore (Slavia Prague).Posted at 62' Foul by Olivier Giroud (Chelsea).Posted at 62' Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague) wins a free kick in the attacking half.Posted at 61' Hand ball by Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui (Slavia Prague).Posted at 59' David Luiz (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 59' Foul by Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague).Posted at 59' Offside, Slavia Prague. Simon Deli tries a through ball, but Peter Olayinka is caught offside.Posted at 58' Foul by Olivier Giroud (Chelsea).Posted at 58' Ondrej Kolar (Slavia Prague) wins a free kick in the defensive half.Posted at 57' Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Ondrej Kudela.
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